Special guest Dr Vicky Phelan, who was awarded an honourary doctorate by University of Limerick last year, addressed the volunteers and said that she commended the students on “the commitment, time and dedication that you have given so generously of in volunteering in your chosen field and I congratulate you on your awards.
“I firmly believe that you will reap the benefits of your volunteering experience for years to come.”
Dr Phelan added that the experience will provide students with “transferable skills that can be brought to the workplace and it will also give you perspective while also making you feel better about yourself and others.”
In her address, Dr Phelan shared her experience and the role of volunteering in society based on her own contribution since she made those forceful disclosures on the steps of the Four Courts in April 2018.
“I was a whistleblower who exposed huge failings in our cervical screening programme here in Ireland. My volunteerism or social activism has had huge impact on women’s healthcare in Ireland and has led to major reform of our healthcare system.
Dr Phelan said that her volunteering and working with women and families who were affected by the scandal allowed her “to channel the anger of my own misdiagnosis and facing a death sentence”.
“I felt compelled to help others and other women like me who found out through the discovery process in my court case that they had been potentially misdiagnosed. Some of those women died. Helping others helped me. It gave me a sense of purpose and stopped me thinking too much about my own still very precarious predicament at the time,” she added.
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